June 19, 2014

Bride’s Name at Marriage is a Choice



Baby Jane born to Mary Jones and Tom Smith…

Being of a curious nature a statement such as this raises many questions, since in today’s society media announcements of newborns are not restricted to wedded parents.

So I wonder:

  • Are they  married but Mary kept her maiden name after the wedding?
  • Are Mary and Tom married?
  • Are they living together, as is the trend today?

Today a bride often questions whether she should adopt my groom’s family name or should I keep my own family name?’s most recently compiled statistics (2010) on this issue shows that 86% of brides adopt their husband’s last names on the day of their marriage.

This is the norm of all

norms, according to Pennsylvanian Laurie Scheuble. She and her husband, David Johnson, have researched the subject of marital naming during the last two decades.

If the bride deflects tradition and does something other than adopting her groom’s family surname it creates some confusion.

My daughter-in-law, Tammy, is among the 8% of brides who retain their own family surname upon their marriage (according to Addressing mail to them was confusing to me. Should I

  • use both full names—it seemed bulky and awkward.
  • use the traditional naming, Dr. and Mrs. Holland—it seemed inaccurate.
  • address the mail to one of them—it seemed to exclude the other.

But there are other options brides can consider.

Six percent of brides hyphenate their names and their groom’s names. This can be amusing—you might find some novel hyphenations:

  • Holland-Tulip
  • Boo-Ghost
  • Water-Leak
  • Leather-Bagge
  • Kidney-Stone
  • Hooker-John
  • Roach-Bugg

It might also be wordy, producing a name having too many letters to fit into the space provided on many documents:

  • Washington- Stainthorpe  21 letters
  • Smitheringale-Middlesworth 22
  • Blackbourne-Swindlehurst 23
  • Chamberlain-Breckenridge 23
  • Winterbotham-Christopherson  26
  • Saltalamacchia- Von Grimmelshausen  31

Another option for the bride is to acquire her groom’s family name but maintain her surname in the middle, without forsaking her given middle name. Had I done this I would have become known as Carolyn Virginia Cornell Holland.

However, I chose another option: I released my given middle name and replaced it with my surname. I chose this option without thinking much about when I married my husband, Monte Holland, in 1966. I retained my maiden name, Cornell, as my middle name at the suggestion of the university administration where I was a student. They said it would ease any confusion in their record keeping.

I joke that I dropped my given middle name, Virginia, because it was appropriate to do as a married woman.

I adopted using Carolyn C. Holland routinely, initializing my new middle name as my given middle name was initialized.

However, I recently reclaimed my full maiden name as my middle name. As a writer I felt it was necessary after I discovered that somewhere there is another writer named Carolyn Holland, who writes in various genres including short story and technical writing. The use of my middle name will separate us in future endeavors.

There is also another advantage to using my full family name in the middle. While researching the Cornell genealogy I’ve discovered interesting stories and historical connections. Of a certainty these stories may not be ones to brag about, but being aware that every family has its skeletons and dysfunctions allows me to write and share these stories (see ADDITIONAL READING below).

When my daughter-in-law retained her family name I wondered how she and my son were going to name their children. I was pleased when they used the name Holland for the surname, and preserved Tammy’s surname in the middle.



Have a need? Contact Carolyn Holland…


I Wear My Cornell (University) Jacket Proudly


1 Comment »

  1. I never questioned changing my name to my husband name…it seem the right thing to do. I was born with my father’s name; later raised by a step-father…known by his name. Accepting my husband’s name was a given for me.
    I have no problem with a bride using her maiden name…even through it can be confusing…as you pointed out.

    Comment by merry101 — June 21, 2014 @ 12:22 am | Reply

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